Emergency workers rushed to his home around 8 a.m. after the sheriff apparently suffered a massive heart attack. He was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.
According to his Facebook page, Winders was just 57.
In an official statement, the sheriff's office said: "Please keep Sheriff Winders family and the Wayne County Sheriff's office in your prayers."
Officials said the main way they are honoring Winders is by continuing to operate as normal, because that's something the sheriff would have wanted them to do.
They described him as someone who truly cared about his job and the department. Winders is credited with modernizing this department over the past 20 years. Plus, he was also a friend to many he worked with.
However, as much as he will be missed within the department, the loss is even harder on his family.
"They're having a rough time, which is what we'd expect," said Maj. Tom Effler, with the Wayne County Sheriff's Department. "He's got three daughters, his wife. He's got two brand new granddaughters and they're all having a very rough time."
An official biography on the Wayne County Sheriff's Office website says Winders was a Wayne County native who graduated from Charles B. Aycock High School in 1975.
He started his law enforcement career with the Goldsboro Police Department in 1984, beginning as a patrol officer. Winders first ran for sheriff in 1994.
Memorial services for Winders will take place Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. in the Kornegay Arena at the University of Mount Olive. He'll be buried immediately following the service in the Wayne Memorial Park.
Maj. Fane Greenfield will perform the duties of sheriff until someone is appointed by the county commissioners to fulfill Winders' term.